The Kansas Water Office, Kansas State University and Northwest Kansas Technical College are providing an opportunity to see firsthand what is taking place on Water Technology Farms by hosting a series of field days this month. Each location will showcase the technology that has been implemented and the results to date.
Last year, three Water Technology Farms — Roth/Garden City Company, T & O Farms LLC and WaterPACK/ ILS — were created in response to public input and identified in the Long-Term Vision for the Future of Water Supply in Kansas. These demonstration farms were initiated in southwest and south-central Kansas and are three-year pilot projects featuring the installation and testing of the latest irrigation technologies on a whole-field scale with a primary focus on water conservation.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership and innovation from these stakeholders who are willing to participate in these demonstration farms and the partners who also believe in these projects,” said KWO Director Tracy Streeter. “While we need to evaluate the performance of these farms for multiple years, the preliminary results from a water savings and economic standpoint are encouraging. There is growing evidence that water use reductions coupled with irrigation technology adoption and water management will result in positive effects on the aquifer and the producer’s bottom line.”
In addition to these existing farms, 13 more Water Technology Farms via partnerships, including generous support from the Kansas Corn Commission, have been established in western Kansas. Throughout August, each farm will host a field day.
• Monday — Circle C Farms, 10 a.m., Healy (RSVPs required by Saturday).
• Aug. 11 — Hatcher Land and Cattle, 2 p.m., Liberal.
• Aug. 14 — WaterPACK/ILS, 2 p.m., Larned.
• Aug. 15 — T&O Farms LLC 10 a.m., Garden City (RSVPs required by Aug. 11).
• Aug. 21 — Northwest Kansas Technical College, 10 a.m., Goodland.
• Aug. 31 — Big D Farms, 9 a.m., Holcomb.
In addition to understanding how the technologies work, the field days are opportunities to learn from local producers, irrigation companies, soil-moisture sensor dealers and other entities about options and experiences towards improving irrigation water use. In 2016 alone, the field days had a collective attendance of 375 people wanting to learn something new as well as wanting to share their experience with fellow producers.
This year, in addition to producers participating in the Water Technology Farms, NWKTC also is participating by providing learning and workforce development training for its students. Its Precision Agriculture department and landowners around in surrounding counties have partnered to develop 10 Water Technology Farm projects.
In these projects, the students and landowners receive in-field training and hands-on experience implementing water efficiency technologies. With supplier partnerships, students will be exposed to multiple types of soil moisture probes, pivot controls, irrigation scheduling systems and other water management tools.
KWO provides financial assistance to Kansas State University’s efforts to give technical support to each technology farm.
“K-State is working with partners to help address questions and concerns about the new irrigation technologies so in the future, farmers will fully embrace the technology appropriate for their operation and situation,” said Jonathan Aguilar, water resource engineer with K-State Research and Extension, based in Garden City. “Each farm is set up slightly different, depending on the primary concern the producer has. For example, one farm has three adjacent spans with different modes of application for comparison purposes. In all fields, soil moisture sensors are installed and tested for accuracy as feedback or for its performance in the different soil types.”
Visit the KWO website, www.kwo.org, for more information on each field day or call (888) KAN-WATER.